Does Western New York have the appetite for another road race that involves food digestion?
Brad Bedell hopes so. That’s why he’s inviting area runners to have lunch and run a mile at the same time with him next week.
The Lancaster resident ran “The Mighty Mile” a few years ago. That’s the Thanksgiving Week race that has become something of a quirky tradition locally. Competitors eat a quarter of a taco, run a quarter of a mile - and repeat the process three more times.
Bedell liked the concept, but he didn’t like the main course.
“I hate tacos,” he said.
When you organize the banquet, you get to pick out the menu. Bedell - who will attend SUNY Geneseo in the fall - preferred submarine sandwiches, and started his own little eat-and-run event in 2014. Competitors had to eat four portions of a foot-long sub while running the mile.
“The last two years, it’s been me and a few friends - no more than a total of 20 people,” Bedell said. “This year, I decided I wanted to get as people as possible involved.”
He set up a Twitter and Instagram account for the race, handed out flyers at other events, and sent out notices to websites such as buffalorunners.com and Section VI Runs. Bedell even is having t-shirts made up for participants, which comes with the $16 fee. All are welcome to register for the third annual race, which will be held on Saturday, July 23 at 10:30 a.m. at Como Lake Park in Lancaster. Any proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank of Western New York.
Bedell is unofficially calling the event “the Subway mile,” since the restaurant chain is the designated spot for competitors to purchase their sandwich. Subway has no direct connection to the race, although it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“I put in a request to Subway,” Bedell said. “I said I would hand out the flyers, and do whatever they wanted to me. They sent back a letter saying they get so many requests that they can’t handle them all.”
As could be expected, there are rules about the sandwich itself. It has to be a Subway foot-long sandwich with one type of meat with lettuce and a topping of the runner’s choice. Vegetarian runners will need three separate items on their sub to qualify. Volunteers will check each sandwich before the race to make sure it meets the standards.
And it wouldn’t be a food-related race without rules to discourage vomiting. Such an action comes with either an extra quarter-mile tacked on to the individual’s race, a $5 fine, or a disqualification.
Predicting a winner in such an event always is difficult, since no one knows who might turn out. But another former Lancaster runner, Jake Schmitz, is the one who has a bull’s-eye on his back as the defending champion.
“I thought it was a cool idea,” said Schmitz, who soon will be a senior at West Point. “I didn’t do it the first year, but I did it last year. I like subs more than tacos anyway.”
Schmitz finished the 2015 event in a time of 8 minutes, 5 seconds. That’s competitive with the best time in the Mighty Mile, even if Schmitz made a small strategic error leading up to the race.
“I had roast beef, but I put hot sauce on it, which was a mistake,” he said. “I think this time I’m going with lettuce, spinach and pickles.”
Bedell added, “I think he could have done better. He didn’t have anyone to push him. I hope to see him under eight minutes this time.”
The competition will be watched by Bedell’s friend, Mitchell Carleton. He put together a few short videos on previous races that can be found on YouTube and a couple of interviews that recently were posted on Twitter. All of them possess a good sense of fun.
This clearly is the sort of race that is not for every taste. The art of combining eating and running traditionally has been dominated by males in their late teens and early 20s, although a few brave women have taken part in such events. Bedell will have to wait and see how many people show up for the chance to add and lose weight at the same time.
But in the meantime, Bedell has decided that he will take part in the event again this year.
“I did it the first year, and I’m going to run it again this time,” Bedell said. “I got grilled for not doing it last year.”
• Okay 5K Fun Run, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 7 p.m. on Tuesday July 19, 884-3256 x200.
• West Seneca PBA Blue Mile, 1 mile, 3330 Seneca St. in West Seneca, 6 p.m. on Wednesday July 20, 474-3567.
• ESB Engineering Scholarship Run 5K, Buffalo Harbor State Park, 7 p.m. on Wednesday July 20.
• First Niagara Bank Summer Track Series, Sweet Home High School in Amherst, 6:15 p.m. on Thursday July 21.
• St. John Vianney Kickoff Run, 5K, 2950 Southwestern Blvd. in Orchard Park, 6:30 p.m. on Thursday July 21, 677-4039.
• Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest Run, 4 miles, 325 Franklin St. in Tonawanda, 7 p.m. on Thursday July 21, 510-3971.
• St. Mary’s 5K Chowder Chase, 6919 Transit Road in East Amherst, 7 p.m. on Friday July 22, 908-6837.
• Subway Mile, 1 mile, Shelter #57 at Como Lake Park in Lancaster, 10:30 a.m. on Saturday July 23, 901-5037.
• 5K Mission Possible, 15 Koenig Circle in Tonawanda, 8:30 a.m. on Sunday July 24, 836-6220.
• EVL-9 and EVL-4 Trail Runs, Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center in Ellicottville, 9:30 a.m. on Sunday July 24, 574-0888.
• Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race, 5K, 6909 Milestrip Road in Orchard Park, 10 a.m. on Sunday July 24, 667-3786.